Norcia prepares to rebuild

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Dear Friends and Family,

The long Umbrian autumn brings lovely fall colors and some better weather for the construction crews which continue their work of “messa in sicurezza,” which is the Italian term indicating a structural securing of the building so that it can be protected before real repairs can begin. When one visits Norcia today, one sees more and more sets of scaffolding lining the medieval walls. Temporary commercial “villages” have been built over the last few months to house the businesses destroyed in last year’s earthquakes. Tourists have been very present on many weekends, helping these struggling business owners to stay on their feet.

We’ve had many visitors to the monastery as well. Pilgrims from all over Italy, hoping to hear a little Gregorian chant, often arrive in time for Sunday Mass. We’ve paved the steep road up the hill so that with colder weather they can arrive directly by car in front of the chapel. Americans come too in large numbers, many of whom we’ve never met, but who have heard about us during the earthquake and want to express their support. They are overwhelmed with the beauty and silence of the place. By being present for Mass or Vespers (both open daily to the public), they hope to take part in our worship of God, the only One who can give meaning to the trials we all face daily.

We have found that late autumn is also a time that more visitors buy our beer, as pilgrims and tourists alike flock to our makeshift beer shop at the bottom of the hill. There, every Saturday morning from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM local restaurateurs, residents and friends fill up their stock of Birra Nursia. More importantly, they have a chance to talk to a monk about their own daily life. Nearly everyone has some earthquake related suffering, and we try to encourage them to keep pressing on, in their own ways, with the rebuilding of the town.

Birra Nursia ( is also available on our American store and many find it the perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas gift. A monthly subscription ( assures a shipment of beer (available in 6-packs or 12-packs) will appear regularly at one’s door, along with glasses and bottle openers. Others “gift” the beer, adding at the online checkout page a little inscription such as, “Thanks Dad for all your help,” or, “Blessings on your new job.” While donations to the monastery are always necessary, purchasing the beer is a way to help the monks and bring a little bit of our work into your own home.

We also know Birra Nursia ( goes well with turkey since Thanksgiving is one of the three times a year the monks eat meat (the others are Christmas and Easter). Each monk prepares a dish, and by long-standing tradition, Prior Emeritus Cassian Folsom prepares the locally farmed turkey and gravy. Cranberries and sweet potatoes are sent by friends and family as they are more difficult to find in Italy.

We monks have had many blessings in the last year. We hope our prayers too will bring to you and your family the peace of Christ.

We remain ever grateful for your support,
Prior Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.